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Audit preview: Air passenger rights during the COVID-19 crisis

English icpdf.png 10 MB
03/03/2021

The COVID-19 outbreak brought major travel disruption, leading to the cancellation of around 70 % of all flights and a collapse in new bookings.

Many passengers had their flights cancelled by their airlines, while others no longer wished to travel, due in part to the different national emergency measures taken – often without coordination – by the different countries such as flight bans, closing borders, imposing quarantine requirements or requiring a negative COVID-19 test from passengers shortly before flying.

With airlines facing liquidity problems, EU countries also introduced further emergency measures to support them, by granting state aid or by allowing more flexibility in the way airlines refund passengers. The Commission issued interpretative guidelines and recommendations on vouchers, but passengers whose flights had been cancelled were often pushed by airlines to accept vouchers, instead of receiving a cash refund.

We are carrying out an audit to assess how effectively the Commission has been safeguarding passenger rights during the COVID-19 crisis. We will also examine whether the EU’s current legal framework on passenger rights is adequate to deal with such crises.

The audit follows on from a 2018 ECA special report in which we made a number of recommendations on how to better protect passenger rights in the EU.

If you wish to contact the audit team, you may do so at the following email address: ​ECA-passengerrights-audit@eca.europa.eu